Tigers are the largest member of the cat family, even bigger than lions. They can grow up to eleven feet long and weigh up to 600 pounds. Tigers today are known as an endangered species from being hunted for their pelts and because of their habitat being destroyed and populated by humans and farm land.
Over the past 80 years, three species of tigers have already gone extinct. These breeds of tigers are the Caspian, Javan, and Bali tigers. The Caspian and the Bali tigers were hunted out and had their habitat destroyed by the building of rubber plantations, but the Javan tiger was hunted out specifically because the people of Java saw it as evil.
Tigers, unlike many other animals can see in color just like humans do. Most members of the cat family see in color, in fact.
There are only 3,500 tigers left in the wild today approximately. However there are quite a few that are kept in captivity.
Tigers are very territorial, both male and female tigers mark their own territory. The males territory is large but does overlap with the territory of other females so that the two tigers can mate. While the males territory will overlap with a females territory, two males territory will never overlap. The same goes with females, two females territory will never overlap.
Tigers drink water in a very peculiar way. Unlike other animals, they do not lap up water by making a bowl with their tongue. Instead, they scoop the water with the back of their tongue, flick it into the air and close their mouth around it.
The saliva of tigers is an antiseptic. When they are wounded, they will lick the wounds and disinfect it.
The tiger's night vision is not as great as you would think. Do not be mistaken though, it is still at least six times more powerful than a humans. The tiger has round pupils unlike house cats who have slitted pupils. This is because house cats are meant to hunt at night and the tiger hunts primarily in the evening and the morning. The slitted eyeballs give the average house cat better night vision than the tiger.
To mark their territory, the tiger will scratch the bark off tree and pee on their territory. Interestingly enough, the smell of tiger urine is most often compared to the smell of buttered popcorn. Another tiger can tell a lot about another tiger by the subtle smells in their urine. For example, a tiger will know how old another tiger is by the smell of their urine. If they are growing too old, another tiger may try to steal away their territory.
Contrary to popular belief, tigers do not roar when they are preparing to attack. Tigers will growl or hiss before they are preparing to attack. A tiger will roar to communicate with other tigers that are farther away.
The markings on a tigers' forehead look like the Chinese character for 'king', this has earned them a spot as a regal animal among the Chinese. Though this has not done much for the tiger, the Chinese has killed tigers for thousands of years for folk remedies. However, the Chinese have made this illegal, in fact, killing a tiger is punishable by death.
Speaking of tiger stripes, every tiger has different stripes. No two tigers have the same stripes, like human finger prints. Tigers also show their stripes on their skin. If you were to shave a tiger, it would still have stripes!
Unlike other cats, big or small, tigers like to play in the water and are skilled swimmers. Tigers often spend time in the water to bathe or to just cross rivers into new hunting grounds.
When a tiger is first born, it is born blind. Half of these tiger cubs do not make it to adulthood.
A few tigers together is strangely called an streak or more humorously and ambush.
Tigers prefer to hunt their prey by ambush. If you look directly at a tiger, they are less likely to attack, though it is not rare for them to attack anyway if you look weaker. The tiger does not like to attack when it has lost the element of surprise. In India, people often will wear masks on the back of their heads to deter tigers from pouncing on them from behind.
Tigers do not traditionally prey on people. When they attack people it is normally because they or their cubs feel threatened. There is a story about a female tigress who attacked and killed some humans that had unwittingly wandered into the place where she was keeping her cub. After she devoured their flesh, the tigress began to prey on humans exclusively. She killed about 430 people approximately, this is why the term 'man eating tiger' is more popular than say 'man eating lion' or 'man eating snow leopard'.
Tigers cannot purr, unlike cats. However a tiger does show their happiness in a similar way to a cat. the tiger will squint when it is happy. This narrows the tigers' vision, meaning the feel comfortable and not threatened. It means the same thing in house cats.
A tigers prefered way of killing is strangling its prey with it's massive teeth or more likely nicking and artery in their neck. However, a tiger can kill just as easily with their massive paws. The tigers massive paw is strong enough to break the skull of a bear or to break its back.
Tiger tongues, like most cats have bristled little brushes on them making their tongues very rough. These bristled are used by tigers to clean themselves. While they are licking themselves clean, the bristles comb the fur.
Tigers have the second largest brain of all carnivores. They are only beaten out by the polar bear. The size of the tigers brain is comparable in size to that of a chimp.
tigers can mate with other big cats, but the offspring is always born sterile. A male lion mating with a female tiger breeds a liger and a female lion breeding with a male tiger form a tiglon. Those this cross mating has only occured in captivity. There are cases of tigers and leopard mating naturally in the wild, however.